JULY 10TH: The Pelicans have officially re-signed Aminu, the team confirmed today in a press release.
JULY 5TH: The Pelicans and Al-Farouq Aminu have agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM deal that will keep the small forward in New Orleans, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The team had prioritized an upgrade at small forward in the offseason, but with other major moves, including the acquisitions of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, it appears the Pelicans are content to bring back their incumbent starter at the three.
There hadn't been much talk about other teams interested in Aminu, a client of Raymond Brothers at IAM Sports & Entertainment. Still, the three-year veteran showed steady progress over his time in the league, averaging 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in his first year as a full-time starter in 2011/12. The Pelicans declined their fourth-year option on his rookie contract before this past season began, and they wound up agreeing to re-sign him at an amount roughly equivalent to his cap hold.
Sitting at 26-48, the Hornets head to Golden State tomorrow night to take on the Warriors. With only eight games remaining, it sounds like the team will have some decisions to make in the offseason. Let's round up all things New Orleans here on this Tuesday night:
- Hornets coach Monty Williams does not foresee the Hornets (soon to be the Pelicans) having any problems attracting top talent this offseason, writes John Reid of The Times-Picayune. Along with the name change, the New Orleans franchise has a 55,000 square foot practice facility in the works as well as ample cap space to make a splash. Williams says that multiple free-agents-to-be have suggested to him during games that they'd love to play for him in New Orleans.
- Williams addressed the idea of changes to the team's roster over the summer, notes Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com (Twitter link). "That’s just the nature of it. When you have a record like we have, you’re not going to settle for this production," Williams said.
- Williams expressed his displeasure with the team's small forwards earlier this season, and Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune echoes that sentiment, imploring the team to prioritize an upgrade at the three this summer. As it stands now, the Hornets use Al-Farouq Aminu, Darius Miller and Lance Thomas at that spot, who barely combine for 12 points per night.
- The Hornets could have as many as eight players become free agents when the season ends in two weeks, including the entire small forward trio mentioned above, Reid writes. Aminu will become a free agent, along with Xavier Henry, Roger Mason and Louis Amundson. The Hornets must decide whether to extend team options to Miller, Thomas and backup point guard Brian Roberts. Per Reid, this has resulted in an environment where the current players are desperate to make an impression. While Reid doesn't mention him, Terrel Harris has a non-guaranteed deal next season and could also become a free agent.
Although the Mavericks/Lakers game tonight will have a serious impact on the race for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, it's not the only noteworthy game on the schedule. The Knicks and Heat have comfortably clinched playoff spots, but New York is still vying for the second seed in the East, while the Heat are looking for a split of the season series with the Knicks. As we wait for those teams to tip off in Miami, let's round up a few odds and ends from around the NBA:
Pau Gasol will be coming off the bench permanently, tweets Orange County Register reporter Kevin Ding. Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni believes his team plays better when they're small, and a starting frontline of Gasol and Dwight Howard obviously isn't small.
The Hornets have exercised their 2013/14 option on Greivis Vasquez, according to John Reid of the Times Picayune. However, Reid confirms that the team will not pick up '13/14 options for Al-Farouq Aminu or Xavier Henry.
All three players are heading into their third seasons, meaning the Hornets had to decide on their respective fourth-year options. Vasquez, who figures to see increased playing time this season with Jarrett Jack having been traded to Golden State, will earn about $1.19MM this season and $2.15MM in 2013/14.
Aminu would have been in line for a $3.75MM salary next season, while Henry would have earned $3.2MM. Instead, both players will become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. According to Reid, the Hornets may still be interested in re-signing both players, but want to keep their options open when it comes to cap space.
We've got a handful of links to share from New Orleans tonight, including several injury updates:
- Anthony Davis returned to practice Sunday after a groin injury sidelined him from Friday's pre-season game against the Rockets, says John Reid of NOLA.com. The Hornets forward appeared to move without limitations during post-up drills but was held out of contact work.
- In another article, Reid mentions that Eric Gordon has continued to rehabilitate his knee, and that Hornets coach Monty Williams hopes to be able to play him in limited minutes before the end of pre-season. Williams added that although he isn't exactly sure if Gordon will be ready between this week and the next, the fifth-year veteran has been participating in drills during practices.
- Both Jason Smith (sore back) and Xavier Henry (sore knee) have sat out the last three pre-season games, but Reid writes that both could be close to returning after taking part in practice today.
- According to Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com, one of Gordon's main goals for this season is to make the All-Star game.
- Brian Travis of Hornets.com gathered Al-Farouq Aminu's thoughts on his experiences during the offseason that included being a leader on the Nigerian Olympic basketball team during the summer games in London.